What does an Irish suburb look like
Lying on the soft sofa and snuggled close to the master - this is how the Irish Wolfhound feels most comfortable. The gentle giant likes to forget that he is one of the largest dogs in the world and not a small lap dog. His slightly impetuous manner not only brings down some vases, but also some - not so steadfast - family members. But basically, the Irish Wolfhound is a kind-hearted dog who doesn't need much more than being close to his family.
Gentle giant with a sense of family
The breed is very people-oriented and affectionate. Again and again the wolfhound seeks eye contact with his caregiver and makes sure that he is paying him enough attention. Keeping them outside in the kennel is therefore out of the question for these social dogs. They adore children and enjoy it when the whole family is together. The wolfhound even meets strangers in an open and friendly manner - at least as long as they come with good intentions. Due to his sensitive, watchful manner, he quickly recognizes when someone does not mean well to his family and bravely intervenes in this case. However, due to its lack of sharpness, it is not suitable as a pure watchdog. Whereby: Which thief would like to test the patience of this four-legged giant?
Do not underestimate the need for running and hunting
The inner calm that this imposing purebred dog exudes is remarkable. He is not very demanding, patient and easily adapts to various everyday situations. However, the Irishman's innate equanimity should not hide the fact that this dog was originally a hunter and runner. As such a hunting and greyhound, he still has a very pronounced need to run and a hunting instinct that should not be underestimated. With so-called "coursing", with greyhound races or on special facilities, this need for movement for fast, free sprints can be satisfied. It is better to keep him on a leash when going for a walk or going on bike or horse riding trips together, as his inner hunting instinct can run away with him at any time.
Why Consistent Parenting Is Important
In terms of size and hunting instinct alone, consistent and loving training in the Irish Wolfhound is essential. If your dog learns the most important commands early on, you can give him more freedom later. A wolfhound that reliably listens to your callback is more likely to be leashed in certain (permitted) areas than one who only occasionally masters this command. However, you should generally not expect blind obedience from this breed. Despite being human, the intelligent and self-confident Irish Wolfhound sometimes shows a certain stubbornness. Sometimes it takes a little longer for him to respond to commands. However, if you understand a little about dog training and treat your wolfhound with the necessary consistency, love and patience, you will have a lot of fun with this peaceful breed.
“Is that a pony?” Comments like this are not uncommon on walks with the Irish Wolfhound. No question, with an average shoulder height of 81 to 86 cm, the pedigree dog attracts attention - whether he wants it or not. The otherwise humble Irish Wolfhound is one of the largest dogs in the world. In the breed standard, his minimum size is given as 79 cm for males. Bitches are slightly smaller, at least 71 cm tall. The record is a height at the withers of 106 cm. The huge four-legged friends naturally weigh in accordingly. Males weigh at least 54.5 kg, bitches at least 40.5 kg.
Wire-haired greyhound with a wide range of colors
Despite their stately size and considerable weight, the Irish purebred dog never looks clumsy. As a typical greyhound, it has a slim build with dry muscles and a deep chest. In relation to its size, the so-called rose ears, which sit quite far back on its narrow skull, are rather small.
The Wolfhound's hair is coarse and hard (wiry) and is approved in the following colors:
The Irish Kennel Club also accepts any color variation that occurs in the Deerhound.
The Irish Wolfhound is not only one of the largest breeds of dogs in the world, but also one of the oldest. Just like its close relative, the greyhound, its origins are likely to be in the Arab world. Archaeological finds prove that it was in ancient times
Egypt already had large greyhound-like dogs that came to Europe and the British Isles with the Celts in the third century BC. In ancient and medieval Ireland, the large, powerful dogs, which were suitable for hunting wolves, bears, wild boars and elk, were in great demand. The so-called Wolfhounds (wolf hunters) were widespread in the Middle Ages among the high nobility, who owned these imposing hunting dogs. The Irish Wolfhound became a status symbol and a coveted gift to other European royal families.
From status symbol to unemployed wolf hunter
Like so many hunting dogs, however, the discovery of the firearm was fatal for the Irish Wolfhound. The guns made the hunting dogs more and more superfluous, so that the wolfhound became more and more rare. In order to save the last stock, an export ban from Ireland was issued in the middle of the 17th century. But the breed continued to decline, with the wolf extinction in Great Britain and Ireland around 1800 dealt it another blow. The breed was practically extinct by the middle of the 19th century. The fact that the Irish Wolfhound still exists and is recognized as a breed today is thanks to the Scotsman George Graham. Graham crossed the few surviving specimens with Deerhounds, Great Danes, Borzoi, and other breeds. The resulting "new", somewhat stronger and larger wolfhound was first presented at exhibitions at the end of the 1870s and was soon recognized by the British Kennel Club.
Breeding and Spreading Today
At the end of the 19th / beginning of the 20th century the first breeding animals came to North America and the European continent, where the population was almost completely lost due to the two world wars. The number of new litters rose only slowly in the mid-20th century, with most still recorded in the British Isles and North America. Although the Irish Wolfhound was bred more frequently again in continental Europe from the 1970s onwards, the large pedigree dog is still rare outside the Anglo-Saxon region.
Primary breeding goal: health
Like (almost) all giant breeds, the Irish Wolfhound is unfortunately badly ill health. Breeding larger and faster dogs has meant that the health of the breed has taken a back seat. The average life expectancy of wolfhounds today is just six to seven years. According to a study published in 2005, only 9 percent of all wolfhounds live to be 10 years or older, the majority die before the age of 8, and some even live to be 5 years old. Fortunately, this comparatively short life expectancy has caused many breeders to rethink their approach. The health of the breed is once again the top priority for serious breeders.
What are the typical diseases of the breed?
Bone and joint problems such as HD (hip dysplasia) and ED (elbow dysplasia) are still some of the most common diseases affecting the Irish Wolfhound. Heart disease, stomach torsion, epilepsy, and bone cancer are also commonly diagnosed in the breed. Of course, not every Irish Wolfhound will get one of these diseases, but the risk is still high compared to other healthy dog breeds. It is all the more important to choose the breeder carefully.
What to consider before buying this breed
Anyone interested in buying an Irish Wolfhound should by no means take the subject of "illness" lightly. Of course, it shouldn't stop you from buying this breed, but you should pay special attention to the health of the breed line when choosing the right kennel. Even if the breeder assures you that his dogs are healthy and that the parent animals also appear healthy, you should not rely on them alone. Have the puppies show you the pedigree and pay attention to how old grandparents, great aunts and great uncles have become. You can also meet the breeder in person and see for yourself on site how important the health and well-being of his animals really is to the breeder.
How much does an Irish Wolfhound cost?
It goes without saying that a puppy from a healthy line who has gone through all of the health tests has a certain price. The current puppy price for serious breeders is around 1,500 to 2,000 euros. You should better keep your hands off supposed "bargains" from the Internet or the newspaper, because it is not uncommon for the saved costs to be paid twice or three times for veterinary bills.
This will keep your Irish Wolfhound healthy
However, the responsibility for the health of the breed does not lie solely with the breeder. As a buyer, you are also responsible for keeping your dog healthy. After all, it is not only the genetic material of a dog that decides whether it will later become ill or not. The feeding, care and keeping of the animal can also favor or reduce the risk of the diseases mentioned above.
Irish Wolfhound Diet
Discover our selection of dry or wet food for dogs!
How does healthy food differ from food that is of poor quality? Is dry food better than wet food, is BARFing better than cooking? Opinions about proper dog nutrition are as broad as the pet food shelves in the supermarket. The question of the type of diet is less important than the question of what should and should not be in the dog food. Like all dogs, Wolfhounds primarily need meat, which should be supplemented with vegetables, rice, potatoes, or pasta. On the other hand, finished dog food often contains a disproportionately high proportion of grain, and unusable ingredients such as sugar, soy or flavor enhancers are also added. You should therefore always ensure that the feed has a good composition, i.e. lots of good meat, vegetables and only a little grain - regardless of whether you cook yourself or use ready-made feed.
How much does an Irish Wolfhound eat?
A dog as large as the Irish Wolfhound will of course eat more than a small dachshund. However, the same applies to him: the more substantial his feed, the less he needs. In other words: It is not the quantity that matters, but the quality. Good food optimally covers the dog's nutritional needs. This depends less on the breed of dog than on individual factors such as age, weight, size and level of activity. A hound that is led in a very sporty manner naturally needs more energy than one that, as a family dog, only does the minimum amount of exercise. Likewise, a puppy needs a different food composition than an adult dog. Since wolfhounds gain size very quickly anyway, growth must not be additionally driven by an excessive supply of energy. Because premature growth in the first few months often leads to painful joint problems (e.g. HD) later. An incorrect calcium-phosphorus ratio in the food can also negatively affect the bone growth of the young dog.
In addition to the correct composition of the food, there is more you can do for the health of your Wolfhound: Avoid climbing stairs or other abrupt movements, especially during the growth phase, which can overwork the dog and later also promote diseases of the bones and joints. Since hounds, like many large dogs, are prone to dangerous gastric twisting, you should also ensure that you have adequate rest after meals. It is also advisable to divide the daily feed ration into approx. Two to three (correspondingly smaller) meals. Height-adjustable food bowls, which can keep up with the rapid growth of the breed and which prevent the dog from bending down too far while eating and having to adopt an unfavorable posture, have also proven themselves.
How to keep and care for a wolfhound
The Irish Wolfhound's calm disposition leads to the fact that he accepts much of what his master offers him with stoic composure - be it the food, the type of daily exercise or other housing conditions. He even endures illnesses until it is often too late. Relying on the dog to let you know when something is wrong can have dire consequences with this breed. Therefore, make sure that your dog is getting the right food, that he is experiencing the necessary amount of movement, which corresponds to his hunting and greyhound nature, and watch very carefully whether you have changes in his behavior, his movements or in his body (for example, weight gain or loss). It can be the first indication of illness and should be clarified by a veterinarian. Changes in the structure of the coat can also indicate an improper diet or other diseases. Although grooming is very straightforward in the rough-haired wolfhound and occasional brushing is absolutely sufficient, you should always take a close look at your dog.
Also read our articles on Acclimatizing Puppies: Basic Equipment & Tips!
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